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We have more experience as survivors than we think


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Lung cancer is the first life-threatening event I've survived. But I've survived all sorts of things throughout life - and, at the time, I thought I might never survive these things. They were "the end of the world" at the time. And now they are experiences from my past I can remember or not. They don't control my life today.

Let's share some examples and remind ourselves we've been through rough stuff before and came out just fine.

1) My high-school boyfriend of 3 years went into the air force. I thought I'd never survive losing him.

2) I was just sure I'd get a coveted promotion; lots of support and "hints" throughout the interview process. When my boss called and said they'd chosen someone else, I was devestated and humiliated.

3) The first time I had to be the one to take a pet to the vet to be put to sleep. I thought I'd never stop crying and feeling like I "murdered" my best friend.

I can look back on these things now from quite a safe distance. I laugh at the first one. But I remember how scared and hopeless and helpless I felt then. And, I realise, life is survival in one form or another from the moment you're conceived.


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1) Lost my parents within a year of each other when I was only 23-24. Went on to marry, go to graduate school, have three kids, start my career as research chemist.

2) Lost my sister and my mother-in-law, both of whom I loved dearly, within a month in 1993. Began my retirement, and became a massage therapist.

3) Older son and first wife divorced, with two small children. Had to learn to cope with split family. Son remarried two years later, and we learned to merge family cultures again.

4) Diagnosed with Stage II prostate cancer in 1995. Had radiation. Learned a lot about coping with cancer and helping others with cancer. Took each of my three adult kids, one at a time, on a short vacation to enjoy time together.

5) Had heart attack, and quadruple bypass surgery. Became a volunteer lay chaplain with my wife and visited people in the hospital with heart ailments or cancer. We did that for five years.

6) Recurrence of prostate cancer. Had seed implants. Chose to have artificial sphincter put in to stop incontinence. Continued to help other men with prostate cancer.

7) Lost my brother in 1998. Have drawn closer to his family.

8) Wife diagnosed with Stage IV NSCLC in Oct. 2002. Learned a lot about caregiving and patient advocacy. Continue to learn and share with others.

9) Stent put into another cardiac artery in April this year. Undaunted.

I know this is a lot, but, heck, people, I've lived longer than all of you. Ha! Don

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My survival started 3 weeks after my 16th birthday,

My 21 year old brother died from a heart attack (he had been born with congenital heart deformaties) and 12 days later my mom died from stomach cancer.

My dad died from lung cancer when I was 23, just 2 months after I married.

I have had a blood clot in my leg and many other, non-life threatening, surgeries and illnesses AND I've had lung cancer.

Am I Survivor? You bet your arse I am and I'm proud to say that all these things have made me what I am......a Survivor with a capital S.


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I, like Katie, am not a lung cancer survivor, but you better believe I am a survivor.

My father died when I was 7.

I got married at 19, had 2 children and was divorced at 22. No education, no money, no alimony, no child support, no car, no washer or dryer. But we not only survived, we thrived.

My mother died when I was 26.

A nephew died in 1990, another in 1996 and yet another in 2002. My one sister died in 1994 and my only other sister in 2004, just 3 months before my dear Earl.

Earl died in 2004 (the worst of all to survive) and my good friend died 2 days later.

Am I happy about all of this - nope. But it is the hand I was dealt and it has only strengthened my relationships with my children and my friends. Each day is absolutely, positively a gift.

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I think the more you overcome the stronger you become.

- My mamaw passed as I watched her take her last breath from cancer that started in her gall bladder.

- My step-mother was killed in a tractor accident.

- My good friend and co-worker, Cassandra, died of ovarian cancer at age 32.

- My little boy was in NICU for eight days after he was born with a very severe respiratory infection.

- My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.

- My FIL passed away from heart failure.

- My dad was diagnosed with colon cancer.



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When I was 7 my little sister died from a strep infection, she was 18 months old. Our family was not the same after that.

In college, I contracted endocarditis from a dental cleaning. Unfortunately it took them weeks to diagnosis it and I almost died. I spent 3 months in a hospital hooked to IV antibiotics. I left the hospital weighing 85 lbs.

I was with my father when he died in 1980.

I lost my favorite Grandmother shortly afterwards.

Then two years ago I got endocarditis again and spent a week in the hospital with an IV. I got to go home hooked to a PICC line and have antibiotics at home for six weeks (dentists are not my friends). :lol:

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Heres my story!

Met and fell inlove with my husband at age 15

engaged at 16

pregnant at 17, quit school, got married had baby.

Had another baby at 20

went back to school at 21

went to nurses training age 27

raised my kids

have two wonderful grandboys

still married to the same wonderful person 34 years later

lung cancer is just one more thing to overcome

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I was welcomed to the world of "Put on your big girl panties and deal with it" to the nth degree beginning in 2003. Throughout growing up there were ups and downs, but nothing like what 2003 would do for me.

In late January I was diagnosed with lung cancer. A week later, one of my grandmothers died. She was buried the day of my surgery.

My mother was diagnosed with diabetes.

My favoritest person in the whole world, my Grampa, was diagnosed with cancer of the bile duct. It was decided he would have no treatment.

My father was diagnosed with cancer and had surgery.

My grandfather died.

My grandmother (his wife, above) had a triple bypass.

A good friend of my husband was killed in a deer-motorcycle accident just hours after we saw him for the first time in almost a year.

My uncle died of lung cancer, after having surgery and beginning chemo (no blood relation).

One of the greatest guys I ever knew in high school died just after Thanksgiving - suddenly, and in his sleep.

I had to have my dog put to sleep.

Now, prior to the year from hell, I lost another beloved dog, another grandfather, my father had a triple bypass, I went through a divorce, I had a good job with a sucky supervisor and all those other things that can taint a person's view on life, but I figure that if I made it through 2003, I can make it through anything...and I also learned that cancer is not the worst news a person can ever receive.

...and here I am, in my big girl panties, dealing with it. I AM a survivor, I have no doubt.

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My Father Died When I Was Nine Years Old--Hardest Part Growing Up Without A Father Figure.

My Grandmother Died--Who Was My Second Favorite After My Father.

And Along The Way Had A Few Bumps In The Road Like Anyone Else. Bottom Line To Me Is This Is What Life Is All About. Things Are Going To Happen--Good, Bad, And Indifferent. Everyone Is A Survivor In There Own Way. I Still Say To This Day To Everyone Don't Feel Sorry For Me--I’m Still One Lucky b*stard, Always Could Be Worse.

Spleen (Immune [idiopathic] Thrombocytopenia Purpura.) Removed 1979--Took Them Several Months To Finally Figure Out What Was Wrong.

Heart Attack 1992

Heart Attack/Treble By-Pass 1995

Lung Cancer 2002

Congestive Heart Failure 2002

Catherization And Stent/Left Main Trunk 2002

Biopsy/Lungs 2002

Colonoscopy 2002

Heart Attack 2004

Catherization 2004--Artery To Small To Stent

Sleep Apnea 2004

AADD (adult Attention Deficit Disorder) 2005

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When I started this thread, I didn't realize I was going to need to re-read all these lessons of survivorship for myself so soon.

Re-read them tonight and I want to thank all of you who shared because I'm that much stronger tonight! Good to know I can come here - or other forums - any time, day or night for a reminder that reality is often very much better than we think.


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